2 entrepreneurs, a wealth of experience and know-how, formed the perfect partnership to tap into a great opportunity.
Winkworth Kingsbury has the privilege to launch 4 luxury x 2 bedroom flats in Larkfield Avenue, Harrow. Milen Johar & Rishi Khurana executed these conversions to perfection from 2 adjoining semi-detached houses. The process from purchasing the original houses to drawing up plans and eventually getting planning permission was very exciting but nevertheless challenging.
Talks of Brexit, the property market bubble fizzing away, along with the obstacles that appeared in the planning and building process did not faze them to carry on with all the determination to make this a success. No expenses were spared on the finished product with stylish Italian kitchens & integrated German appliances, chic bathrooms and spacious rooms throughout.
Here are a few insights into a Q&A session I had with these inspiring entrepreneurs to better understand their product:
How did the idea of converting the properties into flats come across?
We had a unique opportunity to acquire 2 semi detached houses from 1 owner who had connected both houses via internal archways, but had retained both property titles as separate houses. Therefore, both houses were not eligible mortgage security so it had to be a development project from the start. It was a tough decision and process to assess how to maximise the potential and get the best out of each property. Having done conversions before, we felt comfortable that we could create something both modern, yet sympathetic to the original structures and character of the neighbourhood. Some developers could have simply reinstated and refurbished two separate houses, but seeing the space we could’ve created with planning, we chose to add 2 large lofts and ground floor extensions, and split the houses into 4 units instead. We also liked that both houses had very large gardens, so we could offer all 4 flats a decent sized private garden which is unique to conversions as usually only the ground floor apartment might get a garden to the loss of all other residents.
How long did it take to get planning permission and what was your biggest challenge?
It took around 3 months to obtain planning and the biggest hurdles were to do with our front entrance and the size of our ground floor extensions. We initially applied to have external front doors for each flat and a larger extension, having many conversations and revisions to drawings back and forth with the council. The council wanted us to have 2 internal front doors and its not often I say this but in this case, hindsight has shown me that sometimes the council does have an aesthetic eye! 1 external front door has allowed the property to fit in well with the surrounding neighbours / streetscape and having a slightly reduced extension on each house still yields a massive 707 square feet per ground floor flat, and 949 square feet for each upstairs flat. A slightly reduced ground floor extension in hindsight has allowed us to give each flat a large garden / outside space. So thank you to the council and also to our architect / planning consultant who really helped us out massively here. We are very pleased with the end result and what we are able to offer those who are looking to move into the area.
Who was instrumental in the beautiful designs of the flats?
Today’s buyers want something special, something modern to live in that suits todays lifestyle. They want a sense of space, light, features, appliances, character, outside spaces, security, parking and the list goes on. Having done conversions before in North London, we knew what the look and feel of the place should be and we always design something as though we would want to live in it ourselves. It has to be said that we were very lucky to have a great architect who understood our vision and what we were trying to achieve. They helped us create the space we wanted, and assisted us massively in getting planning. We hope we have delivered a finished home that any person moving in, can feel proud to call their home for years to come.
What inspired you to work together?
Although each of us has done many projects before separately, we each left our jobs and formed our company last year to take advantage of opportunities in the market and give our networks of investors, friends and family, a chance to invest in development projects that offer decent returns, which are higher than what they would get in a bank or a managed fund. We were able to leverage each others talents such as sourcing good projects with development opportunity, raising investor equity and development finance, and having a great implementation team of architects, builders and suppliers who could deliver the project's demands.
We see it a lot that people in our networks have money to invest (sometimes plenty) but they may not necessarily have the package of identifying great development projects like this one, or have the vision to maximise a property’s potential. They may not have enough money to do something of this size on their own or having an assembled project support or delivery team. We are lucky to be able to offer our investors, friends and family packaged opportunities and access to projects of varying sizes. Also, by clubbing together we collaborate with our investors, we give also give them a sense of project ownership, regularly giving them updates, involving them in conversations about design or accepting offers etc. they feel a part of the process and we as a collective, become a family of sorts and serial repeat investors!
There is no shadow of a doubt that selling these flats has been as exciting as it can get and are extremely confident with their offering, attracting a wide range of interest.